Ahmaud Arbery's alleged killers had confronted him just 2 weeks before he was shot dead, says neighbor
Diego Perez, who lives around the neighborhood where Arbery was shot, said he had seen Travis confront Arbery on February 11
The father-son duo who killed Ahmaud Arbery had another confrontation with the 25-year-old a few days before their fatal encounter, a neighbor has claimed.
Gregory and Travis McMichael were arrested and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault after a video of them chasing Arbery in their pick-up truck and shooting him dead in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia on February 23 went viral last week.
Speaking after their arrest, Diego Perez, who lives in the neighborhood, said he had seen the two men approach Arbery at the same construction site he was snooping around on the day of his death, around two weeks before the shooting.
That confrontation, which took place on February 11, was reportedly prompted by a motion-sensor security camera video at the site that had pinged the owner, Larry English, who was two hours away.
English then texted the video to Perez, who lived near the site and had offered to keep watch. Perez then left his home and walked to Satilla Drive, where he came across Travis McMichael driving up from the opposite direction.
"Travis saw him in the yard and Travis stopped," Perez said. "He confronted (the man) halfway into the yard. He said (the man) reached for his waistband, and Travis got spooked and went down the road."
Travis returned with his father Gregory, who was armed and called the Glynn County Police Department on Arbery. However, by the time deputies arrived at the scene, the 25-year-old was already gone.
Perez said he described the vehicle that he believes Arbery used to get away to the police, who recognized the young man from other security camera videos at the construction site in the months before.
"All we knew about him was that he was the guy who kept showing up on our cameras," he shared. "No one knew who it was."
The next time Perez heard of Arbery, it was on February 23, when he was dead.
After the video of the McMichael's fatal confrontation with Arbery emerged on social media, two other videos showing the 25-year-old at the construction site also became public.
In the short clips, one of which was shot inside the home under construction, Arbery could be seen just looking around. Another view from the outside shows him walking around for a bit on the lawn and then scooting inside.
Around a minute later, after a car passes down the street, he comes out of the front door and sprints down the road towards the direction of the McMichaels' home.
In a statement, the English family insisted they had no idea that the fatal shooting had occurred until after Arbery's death was reported to them.
"First, and most important, the English family — the homeowners — want Ahmaud Arbery's parents to know that they are very sorry for the loss of their son and they are praying for them," they said through an attorney.
"Second, it is crucial to understand that the English family — the homeowners — were not part of what the McMichaels did," the statement continued. "The first accounts suggested a link between the McMichaels and the homeowners, but there is none. The English family had no relationship with the McMichaels and did not even know what had occurred until after Mr Arbery's death was reported to them."
"After seeing Mr Arbery's photo in news reports, Larry English did not even think Mr Arbery was the person that appears in this video. Even if it had been, however, Mr English would never have sought a vigilante response, much less one resulting in a tragic death."